T: Hey J, so who died?
J: It looks like the Grim Reaper had a good crop this past year.
T: That’s just sick and wrong.
J: If making jokes about dead people is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. I think Gregg Allman said that.
T: No, Barbara Mandrell. And she’s alive. Last I checked.
J: As far as we know. It was a real bad year for the music industry – Allman, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Tom Petty …
T: Well, a lot of that is because we are of a certain age. The heroes of our youth are leaving the building.
J: Yeah, we are of that certain age, fast approaching fogeyism.
T: There are so many … how about we choose ten each?
J: Drafting dead people. Right down our alley.
T: We should start over, pretend we don’t know what we are doing.
J: Doing what?
J: Who are you? Why do you keep calling me?
T: Ok, don’t lay it on too thick.
J: I’m getting my gun.
T: You mean that rubber one your dog chews on?
J: No, my Sigs- … yeah, that one.
T: I thought so.
J: Ok, start it over.
T: Thank you.
(Ahem). Hey J, so who died?
J: What do you mean, who died? Something happen I don’t know about?
T: No, I mean who died in 2017?
Oh wait … no, he tweeted this morning.
J: Oh well, we can’t have everything.
T: Let’s not dwell.
J: Chuck Berry died last year. Damn the luck, the icons are starting to go
T: Well, I hated to see him go, too, but he was 90 years old. Even he was looking at the exit, wondering what was taking so long.
I remember back in 1981 when I started playing in bars, “Johnny B. Goode” was only about 25 years old. What song would be 25 years old now? Nirvana, something like that? “Hotel California” is 40. Son of a bitch.
J: That’s depressing as hell. Fats Domino died too … again, he was about 90 years old, and his career started long before either of us were born.
T: It’s not tragic when somebody peacefully expires after eight or nine decades of wild success and willing women.
J: It’s something I’ve always aspired to. If I can’t be shot by a jealous husband, I suppose expiring after nine decades of wine, women and song wouldn’t be so bad.
T: Why does he have to be jealous? Is that part of the fantasy? You need his stamp of approval, establishing through his jealousy his wife’s desirability?
J: It’s part of the adrenaline rush. If he doesn’t give a shit whether I’m screwing his wife or not, I might as well stay home.
T: In that scenario, I don’t think you are supposed to have a home.
J: Probably not. You know the old joke about hurricanes being like women… they make a lot of noise when they come, and when they go they take your house.
T: ‘Cause, you know most women have that fantasy about getting nailed by a homeless guy while her husband cleans his rifle.
All you need is a big bathtub, a flensing knife, a bone saw and a box of hefty bags.
J: I seriously doubt that any women actually have that fantasy. Except maybe in porn.
T: I bet the guy who recycles all those porn pizza boxes is rich by now.
J: Probably. They don’t even need to have ever contained an actual pizza.
T: Just what we need – some bloated old hooker on a VHS tape, pulling congealed cheese out of her orifices. Orifi? Orificizzles?
J: I thought I saw that in a viral video. It was viral in the sense that it made me sick for days.
I think the plural of orifice is either holes or buildings. In this case, it might be both.
T: What were we doing? Oh right – eulogizing dead people.
‘Cause if you eulogize live people, it makes ‘em nervous.
L How do you want to do it?
T: Let’s do the draft.
J: Oh, right. Dead guy draft.
T: Wars would be smellier, but a lot less tragic, if we drafted dead people.
T: Plus you can dress ‘em in gunnysacks.
J: Do we get Haley Joel Osment to stand watch?
T: I have a list of 36 names – people who passed away in 2017 – and we can draft them one at a time.
How’s this for a name? “Dirt Naps of the Rich and Famous”
J: Sure, why not? Are we going to post autopsy photos?
T: Do you have any?
J: Why did I have to ask?
T: You can have the first pick.
J: OK… I’ll go with Chuck Berry. He was one of the most influential musicians who ever lived; you can hear echoes of his music in pretty much every act of the last 50 years.
OK, maybe not the Osmonds.
T: He might have been my first pick, too. But I’ll happily settle for Fats Domino.
J: It was really unfair that Berry’s only #1 was that stupid “My Ding-a-Ling”. He had so many more hits.
T: If Chuck Berry was the drunk uncle of Rock n Roll, Fats was the midwife. He wrote dozens of hit songs for himself, many of which were covered by white guys like Pat Boone, with the rhythm sense of a jello mold, who (of course, this was the 1950s) made about ten times as much money as Domino’s far superior original recordings.
J: Lots of black guys have the same complaint, and it’s a legit one.
Oh crap, I set up the soapbox, didn’t I?
T: I’ll be gentle. This time.
Caucasian identity theft been going on throughout the rock n roll era. Black guys invent it, white guys steal it (poorly, witness disco), and it becomes mainstream. From Pat Boone and Elvis to Vanilla Ice and Taylor Swift, white artists who can replicate a black sound have been reenacting the Columbian Exchange for decades.
J: Probably was going on before rock ‘n’ roll, too.
T: Um, yeah. The Columbian Exchange was in the 15th century.
J: Well sure, but their music sucked.
In the second round, I’ll take Glen Campbell. Campbell was a big part of my childhood; my mom loved his stuff.
T: He wasn’t one of my favorites – he was a little too I-luv-mah-mama southern for my tastes – but he was a hellacious musician.
J: The Glen Campbell Good Time Hour was required viewing in our house.
When I was growing up, when that show came on my mom would be “Get away from that TV, you’re watching the goddamn Glen Campbell Good Time Hour and you’re gonna LIKE it!”
T: You’re lucky; we got Lawrence Welk.
J: We got that at our grandma’s house.
T: Are you saying I’m old?
J: No, I’m saying your parents were old.
T: They aren’t any more.
J: Neither are mine, for that matter.
T: Some day we won’t be old, either.
J: Anyway, I still have a soft spot for Campbell’s version of “It’s Only Make Believe.” I like it better than Conway Twitty’s big hit version.
T: Conway Twitty had the best hair in Hollywood. It was on his wife.
J: Well, that was a mental image I didn’t need.
T: That’s nice hair. What did you think I was talking about?
J: Anyway… it’s your turn.
T: I’m going to step away from the musicians and choose Mary Tyler Moore.
J: She was pretty huge (not literally, she was skinny) in the 1970s. I remember her throwing that hat in the opening credits, and them cutting the scene before the mad scramble to recover it.
It was Minneapolis, they weren’t gonna let a good hat go to waste.
T: I’m sure I saw every episode of that show. We did it the old-fashioned way back then; binging didn’t exist. Hell, we didn’t even have VHS tapes yet – those came along a few years later.
We had to be home to watch each episode, and we had to sit through the commercials. That’s where I got into reading encyclopedias; you could read an entire article about the ten largest cities in Wisconsin, who William Tell was, or how many wives Henry VIII had shortened while the television yelled at you to buy more Alpo, or get rid of your ring around the collar.
J: OK… in the third round, I’ll go away from the musicians and choose Jerry Lewis. Yeah, he was a total dickhead, but he raised $2.5 billion for charity. The world could use more dickheads like that. And he was at least somewhat funny in those movies with Dean Martin, too.
T: Most of what I remember about Jerry Lewis is that he used to make movies with Dean Martin, he always looked like he smelled like Old Spice, and he invented One Ton Son.
J: His kid was decently talented, too.
T: I’m going with Glenne Headley next. For a few years, from the late 1980s to the late 1990s, she was the definitive ditzycool chick, a cross between Bambi and Marty Feldman. She kind of took Annie Potts’ place – the girl in Ghostbusters who spent several years on the show Designing Women. The type goes back centuries, I imagine, but the ultimate version was probably Gracie Allen.
J: Mrs. George Burns, half of the comedy team “Burns and Allen” – for those of you under the age of ninety.
T: My favorite Gracie joke: “When I took my driving test I was too nervous to study, so I cheated off the car in front of me.”
J: When did she die?
T: Sometime in the mid-1960s.
J: And we are talking about?
T: Speaking of Glenne Headley …
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Two Days in the Valley were terrific, and sort of bookended her prime years. By Two Days in the Valley she was starting to look like an adult woman, rather than a weirdly wide-eyed girl, and Hollywood frowns on women who look like grownups. She kept acting until her unexpected death last summer, but she no longer got the juicy, fame-making roles. I doubt many millennials even know who she was.
J: I remember her in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. She was great. I remember wondering how much of that role was actually an act.
(in Paul Tagliabue voice) In the fourth round… J chooses… Hugh Hefner.
T: Paul Tagliabue? Why didn’t you call Dick Enberg?
J: Did you even read the dead list you sent me?
T: Oh … oh. Carry on.
I chose Hugh Hefner. I mean, the guy brought porn into the mainstream, and helped to kick off the sexual revolution.
T: Hugh Hefner … hmm …
- Wore out more socks than the Harlem Globetrotters.
- Stapled more belly buttons than Nip/Tuck.
- Slept with more Barbie Dolls than a Girl Scout Jamboree.
- Was the 7th most common cause of hysterical blindness.
- Lived 91 years. And 4 hours.
That’s all I got.
J: I wonder if they sprinkled Viagra over his casket, just to be sure he was dead.
He was a pervert and completely unapologetic about it. It was part of his identity.
T: How was he a pervert?
J: Well, he – …. No, I’m not giving you another soapbox.
T: He brought the pipe to the bedroom.
J: Nope. Not touching it.
T: I looked her up – Glenne Headley’s prime seems short, mostly because she didn’t break into the movies until she was in her mid-30s.
J: It seems short because it was pretty short.
T: In more ways than one. Are we still talking about Hefner?
T: Ok, then I’m going to go with Miguel Ferrer.
J: What’s up with Miguel Ferrer?
T: Well, he’s dead.
J: Oh. Then, well, not much now, I suppose.
T: I think Ferrer was a big part of why Robocop was such a good movie. I’d have to look it up, but I think he had to have been nominated for a supporting actor Oscar for it.
His mother was Rosemary Clooney, by the way. His father was Jose Ferrer.
J: Robocop was a damn good movie… one of the 80’s dystopian classics.
T: I’ll buy that for a dollar.
Who’s your next one?
J: Round 5… I’ll go with Chuck Barris. He was ahead of his time with the Gong Show; it was the American Idol of its time, mixing actual talented people with people who had no business anywhere near a stage.
T: Sure, it was American Idol, if American Idol had a cow milking category.
J: And you’d look at him and think “cocaine is a hell of a drug, huh?”
T: He was Peter Falk, but with bad eyes.
J: And bad hair.
T: And a ratty trench coat.
J: Oh, and Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, too.
And Jaye P. Morgan showing her tits on national TV.
T: Live? She did that?
J: Well, almost live.
T: Oh, right.
J: Google it. Yes, she did, during a Gene Gene dance.
T: I’ll be dammed – I just found the picture.
J: She was fired immediately
T: She wasn’t bragging, that’s for sure.
J: There’s video, too, if you really want to look.
T: Not really; I just ate.
By the way, if you type “Jaye P. Morgan tits” into a search engine, you get a little bit of Jaye P. Morgan.
And a lot of tits.
J: Who’s your next pick?
T: Hey, do you know the difference between Barbara Feldman and Bo Derek?
T: Editor’s note: John got the riddle right away, but he fucked up the math (he thought Feldman was agent 86). I gave him credit for the right number, but he really doesn’t deserve it.
J: Editor’s note. John has no idea I just said that. If he’s reading this right now, he’s probably wondering why he has a weird sensation of being watched. Look behind you, John, your dog is watching you!
T: Actually, she probably is.
J: For the lovagawd, who is your next pick?
T: I’ll go with Don Rickles. That hockey puck.
J: The master of insult comedy. He made those Dean Martin roasts all by himself.
T: He was … he was pretty much the last of the Rat Pack guys, too, like a rude, abusive passenger pigeon.
J: Pretty much.. I think they’re all gone now, except maybe Kirk Douglas.
T: Kirk Douglas wasn’t in the Rat Pack. The Rat Pack was all the guys who hung out with the Mob. Douglas hung out with gladiators.
J: Did he spend any time in a Turkish prison?
T: I’m pretty sure he taught his son how to – well, you know. And his son isn’t pleased. Neither is his daughter in law. Well, not anymore.
J: In the sixth round, I’ll take Adam West. The guy was Batman. He still is, 50 years later. Other Batmen have come and gone, but Adam West is still the once and future Batman. He paved the way for all the comic-book superheroes we see today.
T: No, he was Mayor West, from Family Guy. Nobody else will ever be Mayor West.
Well, except the guy imitating him on the show now. I wonder if his body was cold before McFarlane started auditioning new mayors.
J: Well, he was a lot of things, but mostly Batman.
T: It’s not every job that pays you to run around in a cape, mask and your kid’s underwear.
J: Nice work, if you can get it.
T: And drive the Batmobile.
J: I mean, I’d do it for free.
T: Speaking of orientation, ShaZAM!
J: Nice segue.
T: Hey, they can’t all be diamonds.
J: Can any of them be diamonds?
T: Jim Nabors was one of Hollywood’s true good guys, a Vegas mainstay and one of the best baritones in the country for decades.
But to me, he’ll always be Gomer Pyle, USMC.
J: I’m sure to most people, too. He was a fine singer; his version of “The Impossible Dream” is amazing… and he sang at the Indy 500 for all those years.
T: Plus when he wore a dress on Carole Burnett, he knew how to adjust the slip and snap on the bra.
J: He won the Best Crossdressed award a lot, until Jamie Farr started stealing his thunder.
T: Well, he stole it from Milton Berle, anyway.
J: Who probably stole it from J. Edgar Hoover.
T: Who’s your next one?
J: Seventh round… I’ll go with Robert Guillaume.
On a personal level… one of his best friends was James Noble, Governor Gatling on “Benson.” Noble was a friend of mine. He said that Guillaume was the nicest guy he knew. Considering that Noble was about 90 by then, and knew a lot of people, that is pretty high praise.
T: Guillaume played Benson for how many years? He was the Frasier Crane of his time, crossing over and making a peripheral character over into a beloved leading character.
And also – much like Kelsey Grammar’s character – he was the star, but also sort of the heel of his show. A lovable curmudgeon, for sure – but a curmudgeon, nonetheless.
J: “Benson” ran for seven years. And yeah, he was kind of an antihero, but he did have some redeeming qualities.
T: I’m going to go with M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-Monty Hall.
I’m kidding; Mel Tillis was the straight, stuttering cowboy version of JIm Nabors. My favorite scene of his was in one of the Smokey and the Bandit movies, when Burt Reynolds pulled up to him in a parking lot and asked him for directions.
Eventually, after a few muh-muh-muhs, the Bandit yelled, “Never mind!” and peeled off, leaving Tillis standing there with his hat in hand, scratching his head.
J: I give Tillis props for taking his disability and owning it, making it part of his shtick. He even named one of his albums “M-M-M-Mel”.
T: His main stuttering sound was actually nothing; he would try to speak, and nothing would come out.
J: His daughter is smoking hot, too.
T: Oh, I love Pam Tillis. She is cute and sexy, but also funny and charismatic, and one hell of a singer in her own right.
J: Eighth round, I’m taking Tom Petty. I really liked his stuff; he was great solo and as part of the Traveling Wilburys.
It’s sad; I just realized that only two of the five Wilburys are still alive.
T: My favorite Tom Petty videos are his work with other singers and guitar players. He was part of the Wilburys, of course, but also part of maybe my all-time favorite YouTube video.
J: This is my favorite of his. It’s got a weird percussion effect; apparently the drummer found a champagne bucket somewhere, and Petty liked the sound it made when he hit it. That’s the sound you hear in the chorus.
T: It’s always a little more shocking when one of our heroes dies while they are still busy, like Joan Rivers did, or Petty did. I guess the consolation is that they lived all the way to the end of their line.
J: Another nice segue. You are en fuego with those.
T: Shouldn’t a segue take me to the next dead guy? That one was like jumping on a horse to return to the burning barn.
J: Well, nice – um … well, I take it back. It was not a nice segue. It was not nice at all.
T: Next, I think I’ll go with Gregg Allman. He wasn’t a big part of my childhood, but his music was a staple of my playing career.
J: I was never much into that Southern rock when I was growing up, but I learned to appreciate it more as I got older.
T: “Melissa,” “Whipping Post” and “One Way Out” are part of my eternal soundtrack.
J: And Allman was a big part of that.
Ninth round… Rose Marie. One of the classic comedians. She played off Dick Van Dyke really well… she and Morey Amsterdam made that show. Without them it’s basically a rehash of “I Love Lucy.”
T: I mostly remember her from Hollywood Squares. I don’t remember much of what she said, honestly – it was so long ago – but she had a vibe like Phyllis Diller. The sassy old broad vibe.
And neither one of them was that old, either – younger than we are now.
I think Rose Marie’s career lasted over 90 years.
J: Something like that. She claimed to have had the longest career in show business history, and she may well have.
T: It’s hard to beat the girl who held Shakespeare’s beer while he wrote “Romeo and Juliet.”
J: “Forsooth, I hath quaffed the last of mine ale. Wench, fetcheth me another.”
T: I see a few American words in there, you sloppy trencherman. Thine aulde English dost SUCK!
J: It didn’t work, but it was fun to try.
T: Tryeth ye moost; faileth ye dost; Donnie thyne Most.
J: Boom tick. No psst.
T: Yeah, that doest suck far worsteth.
J: Ney shyte.
T: I know we are winding down, so I want to pick Erin Moran. She grew up with us, pretty much. She wasn’t my major hearthrob – that was Marie Osmond or Olivia Newton-John, or some naked broad in one of Hef’s magazines – but she played the parts I watched closely, so I could learn how to understand women.
J: How’dthat work out for you?
T: About as well as Moran’s life. You know your life was rough when the world cheers after they find out you died of cancer.
J: Yeah, “I’m so glad she didn’t O.D. on something.”
T: We don’t see that many television starts die in mobile homes. How different would her life had been if she hadn’t been screwed out of her residuals for most of it?
J: Tenth and final round: I’m taking June Foray. Not exactly a household name, but she was Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha the spy, Cindy Lou Who, Granny in the WB cartoons, and Witch Hazel… pretty much every female animated character except Betty and Wilma.
T: Rocky is DEAD?????
J: Yep. Dead squirrel in the middle of the road.
“A-stinkin’ to high, high heaven.”
T: I really don’t want to think of her as Rocky the Flying Roadkill.
J: Well, when you put it that way, no.
T: Choosing a last one is hard; there are so many to choose from. And a few who can roast on a spit, as far as I care (Charlie Manson for one ) …
But I’ll go with the Gentle Giant, Don Williams.
He sold millions of records and performed in front of audiences all over the world, without ever letting them see him sweat.
J: That’s a good quality to have when you’re performing.
T: I’m sure we missed a bunch; we’ll call this part one.
J: To be continued.
T: Sure, why not? It’s not like they are going anywhere.
J: alt+0666 is on line 2; are you home?
One thought on “I See Dead People: Dirt Naps of the Rich and Famous”
I had a prepubescent crush on Mary Tyler Moore, and never really got completely over it.
I like to say that I hate the cult of celebrity, that famous lives are no more interesting than other lives. I think that’s actually true, and actually is true for 99% of all cases.
Johnny Bower died about a week ago. I felt that one a bit, but, like Chuck Berry, he was at least 90 years old.
Yeah, I knew about Burns and (Gracie) Allen. How old does that make me? Old enough to have heard about them.